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State Sen. Orr: Legislature cannot ignore ‘alarming’ math statistics — ‘We are failing these children’

The Alabama Senate on Wednesday passed legislation that seeks to improve math instruction and prohibit the use of Common Core State Standards in K-12 public schools.

The bill, called the “Alabama Numeracy Act,” is sponsored by State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) and cosponsored by State Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence).

The Senate-approved legislation aims to address K-5 math proficiency statistics by providing for summer learning programs, assessment tests, accountability standards for teachers and principals, and additional training and standards for teacher education programs.

Additionally, the measure would require the state superintendent and the Alabama Board of Education to terminate the state’s flexibility waiver agreement with the U.S. Department of Education relating to the federally-enacted Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which includes the adoption of the Common Core State Standards.

Orr, chair of the Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee, asserted that the legislature must act to improve the state’s “alarming” math statistics.

“Only a third of our school systems, or 10 percent of fourth through eighth grade students, are proficient in math,” advised Orr. “This is an alarming statistic that we cannot ignore any longer. There has been no urgency to attempt to improve math instruction in our schools, and the result is that we are failing these children. The responsibility falls on us to help propose solutions.”

He added, “The Numeracy Act provides for the hiring of hundreds of math coaches to support our educators in the classroom – to help them, train them, and show them the latest techniques. It also establishes a framework for accountability to ensure student success. Because of the legislature’s conservative budgeting approach over the last decade, we have the means needed to invest in our students and teachers. I appreciate Senator Melson and my colleagues in the Senate for their support on this critical piece of legislation.”

Melson, chair of the Senate Education Policy Committee, declared that state leadership can no longer be “complacent” with its math instruction standards.

“We cannot be complacent with the state of Alabama being dead last in math education,” stated Melson. “It is a shame that Alabama students are not getting the education they deserve, and it is time for lawmakers to step up and provide real solutions to better education across the state. I applaud Chairman Orr for his leadership and continued efforts to create more support for our teachers to provide a successful environment for our students. The Numeracy Act is a significant step in the right direction, and it will greatly impact the education our children receive, positioning them for a brighter future.”

The “Alabama Numeracy Act” now heads to the Alabama House of Representatives for consideration.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

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